Stanly commissioners move to break ties with Cardinal Innovations

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution at a specially called meeting Monday night to change organizations which manage the county’s behavioral health-care services.

In the resolution, Stanly will start the process to disengage from Cardinal Innovations and align with Partners Behavioral Health Management, authorizing county staff to author a letter to disengage.

Chairman Matthew Swain said after the meeting the Board has “been seeking out a better partner to collaborate on mental health issues. Cardinal Innovations always marginalized many of the issues smaller counties have, never really solving any problems.”

Swain said the county’s community providers and Department of Social Services specialists have “always had issues with placement of children. When they are placed, there is concern that they are receiving the appropriate services.”

The chairman also said Cardinal “failed to provide meaningful assistance in addressing the opioid crisis in Stanly County…one of the leading mental health issues we face. Joining a new MCO may not solve every issue, but we feel we would be joining a provider that is at least willing to sit down and work toward solutions.”

Stanly became one of several surrounding counties to pass a similar resolution, including Cabarrus and Rowan. Both counties passed their resolutions approximately three weeks ago, according to County Manager Andy Lucas.

Lucas said the Board made this decision also because of “governance structure and the marginalization of issues and concerns voiced by smaller counties such as Stanly.”

The resolution starts what will be a 90-day process for the board to change healthcare providers, starting with 60 days of having the resolution posted online to allow the public to comment. The final 30 days will have comments posted by citizens added to the county’s website.

Neither the board of commissioners nor county staff can disengage from Cardinal; only the secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services can make that decision.

Vice Chairman Ashley Morgan made the motion seconded by Commissioner Zach Almond and the resolution passed unanimously.